Sail Date: September 2003
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous ... Read More
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous Hawaii cruise on the Hawaii American Cruise Line about twelve years ago. (They no longer exist). There were some things I really liked. Getting on and off the ship was a pleasant and quick experience. We (3 couples) booked two nights at the Marriott Wakiki Beach Resort prior to sailing to adjust to the time difference between Hawaii and the east coast of the mainland. Nice hotel and best of all had an NCL office where we could do all our pre-board registration which really made getting on the ship an easy process. There was a fairly long line for those who did not go through that process. It is a small office, however, and if there was a line it sometimes appeared to take a long time to get served. We had a standard balcony cabin. Small but adequate since we spent little time in the cabin. It was obvious they did not take great care in cleaning the cabins during the change over between one group leaving and another coming on board. One of our couples found shoes under the bed and the cabin was not very clean. My cabin was fine except for missing wash cloths which appeared after dinner. We later found out the cabin stewards are not only responsible for cleaning 14 cabins but also have to help move luggage. NCL needs to rethink the whole changeover process. Dining was an interesting experience. Service varied from night to night. We never did the alternate dining experiences since except for one meal (breakfast)in the Cadillac (didn't go back because of slow service). Did not feel we should pay extra for a meal. The main dining rooms were beautifully decorated however the service was inconsistent. Mostly a very young staff who did not appear to be well trained. Sometimes service was quick and efficient and at other times slow and poor. The wait staff was very pleasant and accommodating but NCL needs to train better. Some of the food was great while some was not so good. Usually had four entrees that were different each night and an additional four that stayed the same. The Aloha Cafe (buffet) was OK and offered a good variety. Overall the food was good but not great. I have cruised before and remember telling everyone about the great dining. Not so this time. We are not drinkers so I can't say much about the bars except I ordered on drink and waited 20 minutes to get it and another time they had a drink special but when I ordered it they were out of the mix. Sodas!! I don't personally think you should have to pay for soda when tea, iced tea, lemonade and coffee are included but it seems to be an industry standard. You can buy a sticker to put on you cabin card for which you pay around $35, which we did, but found out we could not drink that much soda in seven days to make up the cost. All of the shore excursions were very good. We did at least one each day and two on one day. Be sure to book in advance. Sometimes sold out and the lines on the ship at the excursion desk were long the first couple of days. I booked on-line and had some difficulties. I found out the excursion staff at NCL in Miami doesn't seem to know what they are talking about since they booked us on a couple of tours that when we got on board the ship found out we could not go on them because they were too close together in timing since you need at least 45 minutes between tours which is something they don't tell you anywhere that I could find. The excursions are somewhat expensive and NCL charges $15 to $25 more than if you booked them on your own but they also eliminate the hassle of booking your own. It was worth the cost to me. We did a helicopter ride ($299 per person- WOW!) which was spectacular. They charge you 1.5 times if you are over 250 pounds and they weigh everyone who says they are over 200 lbs. The only objection is they weigh you in the main lobby next to the excursion desk. Tacky!! One of our party was weighed in at 251 and charged the extra. When he got to the helicopter terminal he was weighed again and weighed 238. He did get a refund. Entertainment was good. I am a musician and I liked all of the musical productions. It beats watching CNN in your cabin. My over all impression was NCL has a corner on the market and knows that most people only do this once in a lifetime so they could perhaps get away with cutting corners. They did a great job in some aspects of the cruise and in others they need to work on training and quality. However, I would recommend doing the cruise since it is, in my opinion, the best way to see Hawaii and hope NCL gets the message that quality,training, and first impressions do matter. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on ... Read More
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on 21 prior cruises and my wife and I have been on 5. Most of our cruises have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. This is our first cruise with NCL. We choose this cruise for the timing of its' itinerary through the Panama Canal. Mainly for our boys who are on summer vacation from school. We were a little apprehensive about taking an inaugural cruise, expecting a lot of major problems but to our surprise we experienced minimal issues. We really enjoyed this cruise and felt that the Pride of America crew provided outstanding service. If you are a person who lets little things bother you, you probably would not feel the same way about this cruise. We looked at the bigger picture and didn't let some of the minor things get to us. I would recommend this ship and would not hesitate to sail on NCL in the future. Listed below are some of the positive things we felt about the ship and some areas that needed improvement. POSITIVES: 1. Service provided by the crew was outstanding. From the dining room service, bars ,cabin attendant, the entertainment and ship's officers all went out of their way to provide excellent service. 2. Pride of America is a beautiful and very well appointed. Especially in the dining rooms and in the common areas. 3. All American crew. No language barriers.!!! Who says Americans don't work hard! This is the hardest working crew we've experienced. 4. Teen program was the best we've had on any other ship. 5. The food was not the best we've ever had, but it was above average. 6. Shore excursions were well organized and managed. Very professional guides and very knowledgeable especially in Costa Rica. 7. The 2 Broadway shows were well done. Billy Mullen, WT Greer were excellent performers. Comedians were average. The cruise directors Rich and Shona did a very nice job keeping things organized and flowing. 8. The photographers were excellent, especially Michael who was a real perfectionist took some outstanding pictures of our family. 9. Meeting up with all of our Cruise Critic friends and having a great time. A special thanks to Nancy for organizing our group and going the extra mile to make sure we had special attention. 10. The ship was spotless. There was a major effort by the crew to keep the ship clean and spotless. Some people complained about dirty knives and forks; we personally never encountered any issues regarding silverware. 11. Freestyle dining was our first experience and we enjoyed having the flexibility of eating at our convenience. 12. Good value for the money. Negatives: 1. The 4th of July celebration was weak. Only a 45 minute party late a night out by the pool was very disappointing. This ship was named Pride of America and was the first US flagged ship in 50 years, NCL should have made a bigger splash on 4th of July. 2  Air conditioning in cabins were still being worked on as we cruised. Some rooms were hot while others were cold. Ours was an ice-box and we compensated by opening our cruise cabin sliding door to the balcony. 3. No navigation information on the ship or on TV. This was disappointing because we never knew where we were at any given time. We also didn't hear any of the announcements in our cabins or on TV, this could possibly be a safety issue. We had to step outside our cabins to hear announcements. 4. A little bit of a hole for college age students ages 18 to early 20s. 5. Not much they can do about cabin size, but felt it was the smallest balcony cabin we've had especially since there were three people in ours. 6. Although we really enjoyed Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Cabo San Lucas we Roatan Island could have been skipped or replaced with a better port. 7. Longer stay in Cabo San Lucas, 5 hours was not enough especially with having to tender people in. 8. The specialty restaurants with a cover charge bothered us a little. We know this is the trend in the cruise industry but felt that we were being nicked and dimed on the cover charges. The bottom line is we all had a very nice time and would sail with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard ... Read More
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard from our cabin steward that it was because the boat was having engine problems. I thought that was pretty messed up considering how new the ship is. Our Hertz shuttle driver said that was just an excuse for NCL to save on fuel. Anyway, it was a good cruise. The entertainment on the boat was okay but we tried to spend as much time off the boat as we could. I mean c'mon, it's Hawaii! My biggest complaint about the ship as many other past reviewers have mentioned: wait times for the restaurants. Honestly, it can be quite outrageous. Even for the main restaurants its worthwhile to make reservations just because the waits can be greater than an hour. The specialty restaurants need to be reserved well in advance so don't leave it to the last minute. I'd recommend you rent cars and drive around the islands on your own. You can see so much more. On Maui we went to the Old Lahaina Luau which was great. We also did the Road to Hana but try to do some research before going on the drive. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2005
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing apologies in advance! First let me preclude ... Read More
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing apologies in advance! First let me preclude any other thoughts and say, we love cruising. Let me also state that the reason we love cruising is because of the choice you have. For us, a great cruise is the opportunity to do nothing and to eat well. The itinerary on this cruise meant we had 5 days at sea to start and 5 ports of call ending in Honolulu at the end, therefore it seemed absolutely perfect! As a result of our likes and dislikes, we always tend to book the best cabin available, whether that be a Garden Villa, owners suite or penthouse, it doesn't matter. What does matter is enjoying our space and keeping away from other people if we choose to do so. Now that may sound odd but we work in the tourism trade and on vacation we prefer to keep away from tourists! Cruising for us, meets all our needs. We can do what we want, when we want and with whom we want. So, with that said, our experience on POAm has been very indifferent. Firstly the all American crew.... it simply doesn't work IMO. Very few smiling faces, few people enjoying their jobs and restaurant staff that would be best suited to McDonalds, Burger King or Ponderosa at the best. Further, the amount of gay staff is unbelievable. I've no problem with gay people in general if they are good at their jobs but frankly, they weren't on POAm...with one notable exception....our butler, who was great once he got to know our likes and dislikes. One thing that we have found hard to take is the staff pretty much accusing us of contributing to our problems. For example, in the Spa on the second day at sea, on the first we had spent $500 - $600 with them, the gum-chewing receptionist called us at 3.20pm and asked my wife if she had an appointment today? Yes, my wife responded at 4pm. The receptionist then accused my wife of missing her appointment, as it was 4.20pm on her watch! My wife informed her the ship's clock was showing 3.20pm on our TV and that she must have made a mistake. My wife then called the concierge after hanging up with the dumb receptionist and he confirmed the ships time at 3.20pm. He said he'd call back and confirm the appointment was still on. At 3.55pm we hadn't received a call so my wife went to the spa for her appointment. 10 minutes later she was back as the half-baked gum-chewing receptionist was now making out the appointment was for 3pm! My wife showed her the appointment card she had with a time of 4pm. The manager was duly called and it was explained there was a mix up. My wife then asked who was going to do her spa treatment and when told that it was to be the gum-chewing receptionist she duly cancelled that appointment and the subsequent appointments we had made for the duration of the cruise. That's another $600 plus saved through bungling POA inefficiency. Then we have our useless cabin steward. On embarkation day we are used to being greeted by our stateroom steward within the first couple of hours but not this time. This sole didn't turn up until evening time and frankly, we could easily have missed the lifeboat drill if we were so minded. Then he repeatedly forgot to bring us the newssheet for the following day and we didn't see a chocolate until day 3! Capping this off, he then didn't make up our cabin for 3+hours in the morning. We usually had it available and marked up "make up cabin" by 8.30am but if it was done by mid-day it was an achievement. We complained to management on day 4 and he came and tried to blame us for not saying anything to him! He was then good the following day but then he probably had had his card marked by the Hotel Director after we complained. So ...there we were expecting him to improve...fat chance. The following day at Hilo we got off the ship at 8.30am. We returned at 1.30pm and the room still wasn't done....he was still "detailing" it! Fortunately one of the senior hotel staff was walking our corridor and seemed pretty horrified by what she saw. We don't know what she said to him as she took him out on the balcony but it didn't seem to make any difference as when we returned in an evening we found he'd moved the sofa bed away from the wall about 8-12 inches and there was a right mess behind it comprising of swarf shavings and toe nails from previous guests. Again we called the Hotel Director and again he came out, took a look and said it wasn't good enough. He did offer to change room steward for us but wanted to give him another chance. So his chance came and he blew it big time. We got off the ship in Nawiliwili, Kauai at approximately 8.30am and had a thoroughly enjoyable tour to Waimea Canyon. We got back to the ship around 2.15pm and went to our stateroom where to our utter dismay our cabin hadn't been made up yet again. We reported this to the hotel director once again and within an hour the cabin had been done by our guy who had apparently been feeling ill that morning. Funny that, because at 8.30am when we saw him he was very chirpy and didn't at all seem ill. So....let's move onto the food. Day one we went to the French. On previous NCL ships this has been a highlight and we wanted to start our vacation in the best manner possible. Overall this ranked as a 5/10 and was something of a let down from a food quality point of view. The staff were OK and the manager was a guy who didn't know the itinerary of the ship...we found that amusing ! Day two saw us try out the Steakhouse. We were eventually greeted by a hostess who decided she needed to walk round the restaurant to see there was space for our reserved reservation. Again, quite comical as we could clearly see many open tables ! After what seemed like an eternity we ordered. The waitress was pleasant enough but hadn't a clue what to do with the wine. We ordered Pouilly Fume and also a nice red zinfandel. When it came, she opened the white wine without showing us the bottle and we discovered she had delivered Pouilly Fuisse...a $ 50 bottle. $ 12 more expensive than our order. Further, amazing how the prices of Fuisse has risen from the mid 30's to $50 these days...last November we were on the Sun and it was $ 32 ! Oh well, c'est la vie. It didn't matter, crab cakes were due any second. So we waited and waited and when they did arrive we noticed they were burnt on the one side (facing down of course) and cold in the middle ! We both left them and waited for the steaks we had ordered. They were just about acceptable but we were disappointed with the veg and the potato. Live and learn....we won't be visiting the Steakhouse again. On 3rd night we opted for East meets West and this was nothing short of a disaster. We arrived promptly, were shown our table efficiently and from there things got worse. We ordered our arrived and we ordered our meal. Starters arrived after 15 minutes and we're very very poor. We then had another 35-45 mins before our next food arrived and when it did, it was nothing short of disgusting. The duck, in particular, was awful and I would think twice about giving it to a dog. My eldest daughter had pork and that was inedible. By the time I'd tried the alleged Chicken Tikka Masala I had had enough....we left. Another restaurant we won't be revisiting. Shame really, we had made further reservations for a couple of nights time and we had also booked the Teriyaki room...we cancelled both reservations, particularly after remembering our Teriyaki experience on the Star ! This could only be worse ! We then proceeded to the main dining room to get something to eat. Our evening was rescued by Kevin and Amanda who were truly excellent. Exactly what the specialty restaurants are calling out for. People with a sense of humor, people who know their job and people who can actually perform their task with a smile on their face. We stuck with them from that point on except for one night where the hotel director comped us in at the French as some sort of an apology for the problems we had so far faced. This time the French was much better but the quality of the steak I had still wasn't as good as I've had on other Norwegian ships. Day 4 saw us at Little Italy and whilst the wait at the table was a little longer than one may have hoped for, the food was OK and the service attentive. It was the best specialty restaurant we came across but again nothing to be excited about and nothing to tempt us back. Other frustrations with dining were seen at the Cadillac Diner. The reception staff here are utterly brain dead. I watched in bewilderment that a party of three couldn't be accommodated at a table that needed a chair from a nearby table bringing over. Instead, the brain dead who operate this room seated a young couple at this table and left the elderly party of three standing for 20 mins. Seemed to me they were unwilling to exercise both their brains and their brawn. And I'll not talk about the food.....or drink except to say a chocolate milk for my daughter was also beyond them ! In conclusion, the food has been very poor and dear Amanda was horrified by the "chocolate decadence" served up one actually tasted like washing up liquid and she regretted trying a piece of mine immediately she took a bite. The buffet service is inadequate and although not great pasta lovers we would have appreciated a better choice away from the burgers/hot dogs and general meats on offer. The buffet really wasn't organized well and the food on offer was generally unappealing. As for the lunch time offerings in the main restaurant, again, all we can say is that the food was uninspiring and the staff bordering on ignorant. Very often it seemed to blend into much of a muchness and the choices we made were based more on hunger rather than "I've got to have that". Let's now talk of the ship layout for a minute. At first glance everything looks great. Lots of deck space and a feel of spaciousness. However, as you explore the ship you become aware of decks with only one entrance/exit and they just feel odd. What bewildered me was the space allocated at the front of the ship for the business area. A huge auditorium takes center stage and another 3-4 rooms capable of taking 30-75 people each could be found. Now if NCL believe that they have an audience for this space in Hawaii, then good luck to them, but personally I just can't see this space being used unless the ship operates from New York. Something I guess it won't do as the ship has no casino. The casino is no big deal to me but for business people, I rather think they like this sort of thing....go figure! The other thing that surprised me was the size of the spa. It was small. About 8 treatment rooms and a small sauna / steam room in each of the male and female changing rooms. What happened here? Where are the indoor pools, jacuzzi's, etc? A very big disappointment. Moving on from that, everyone's pet I don't know if "Pride of America" has got everyone wound up and extra vigilant, for that read stupid, but this cruise really did take the biscuit. For those that don't know it, it's an English expression...look it up one day ;). Anyway, San Francisco it was fine, everything ran properly and everyone was on the ship in decent time even allowing for the 2 hour delay whilst waiting for latecomers from the airport. However, upon reaching Hilo, Hawaii it became clear we were entering another world. There was one Coast guard cruiser and two or three other boats equipped with guns coasting around the ship. Coast guard security was crawling all over the place including on the ship. As if this wasn't bad enough the security in the ports of Hilo, Kona, Kahului (Maui) and Nawiliwili (Kauai) were out right ridiculous. On most mornings we were woken by a Coast Guard helicopter circling the ship for hours on end, so those that wanted a lie in practically had no chance. Upon returning to the ship, the security staff excelled themselves and it seemed that passengers were practically being strip-searched at times...and I'm not joking. On one occasion I witnessed several passengers who were very angry when asked to take their hats off and then proceed behind a white line which already housed an overcrowded area whilst we were waiting for the tender to take us back to the ship from Kona. This wouldn't have been so bad if the guy had asked nicely but he was downright rude and arrogant...enough to annoy the mildest of people. All I can say is thank heavens it wasn't raining or that it wasn't exceptionally hot because if it had of been, Norwegian may well have seen their first riot as the one 20 foot covered area was totally inadequate. At all ports we had the privilege of having our bags searched by hand. Now forgive me here but aren't we in 2005 and X-ray machines have been around long enough for either the port authority or the cruise line to use? Naturally this ridiculous state of affairs caused long lines and many fed up guests of the ship who have paid decent money to have a vacation. Everyone is in favor of security but please let's keep it sensible and to the point. Opening and sniffing people's drinks is taking it too far IMO and I couldn't believe it when it happened to my daughters (aged 11 and 15)...maybe they thought they were smuggling a swig of alcohol on board in their lemon and lime drinks...who knows? Capping this all off, we had security at Maui to contend with. Getting back to the ship and through security was comical. These bunch of cretins (I know no other word) decided to stop the coaches at the entrance to the port and one security guard got on board the bus and inspected all our credentials! Of course, this caused traffic to backlog and much inconvenience to all concerned. Why on earth they didn't have someone stationed as you entered the terminal is beyond me or why they couldn't park the coaches and then let people off after they had been inspected was beyond me but no, we all had to sit there until they cleared the bus completely. The security guard came on board took 5-8 mins inspecting photo id's and ship board cards and then allowed us to drive another 50 feet where everyone got off to go to the ship through the main security. You really couldn't make this up could you..anyone heard of common sense? So to round all this off, we were tailed everywhere in Hawaii by the Coast Guard cruiser. I can bet this cost a pretty penny and I'd love to know which way we are picking up the tab for this, is it through our cruise fare or through yet more tax that the wonderful Mr. Bush has imposed on us through his ridiculous ill thought out war? So, overall, a very disappointing cruise and probably our last with NCL. My report probably seems to be very negative but we did actually enjoy ourselves. Our balcony was one of the best we have had at sea and thus, we spent a lot of time there. Our butler was fabulous and managed all our requests in reasonable time but best of all was the other passengers we mixed with at meal times. From speaking to them, most had similar comments in regard to the food so most of us pitched up with Kevin and Amanda and we got to know each other reasonably well enough to have some great fun in a slapstick sort of way. We've now experienced 4 NCL ships in the last 18 - 24 months and the time has come to go elsewhere. I'll be interested to see how POA copes in the next two years but I think the policy of employing Americans only has to be reviewed. Forgive me here, but a lot of the staff we saw and met, clearly weren't enjoying their time on Board and as such, it made the whole experience poor. Maybe they are accustomed to better paying jobs & better working conditions than people from other cultures? Maybe it's also that they're just damn lazy and want to take the easy way instead of going the extra mile to please guests on the ship? Who knows? All in all we still enjoyed our cruise. The ports of call were great and the days at sea were wonderfully relaxing. Just a shame so many things didn't come together to make a great cruise but we only have to wait until November for our next...Princess here we come. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
We JUST returned from a cruise on Pride of America. We are frequent cruisers and have had some wonderful experiences. This was NOT one of them. Along with many fellow passengers, we are disenchanted with Norwegian Cruise Lines and will ... Read More
We JUST returned from a cruise on Pride of America. We are frequent cruisers and have had some wonderful experiences. This was NOT one of them. Along with many fellow passengers, we are disenchanted with Norwegian Cruise Lines and will never cruise with them again. This voyage was clearly undertaken for training the crew and not on behalf of the passengers (we were used and abused). There are some serious communication and organization issues that must be resolved before I would even consider recommending this cruise to anyone. Here are descriptions of just a few of the things that contributed to our miserable voyage: On the first day of the cruise, we arrived to find our cabin prepared for double occupancy, not the triple occupancy that we had booked. We reported this to the reception desk at 2:30 and called 3 more times between 2:30 and 10:00. Each time we were told that it would be taken care of, but nothing happened. Finally at 10 pm, we started flagging down housekeeping staff in the hall. We procured a pillow, but no one came to help us fold out the trundle bed. Because we'd been traveling all day, the two of us with beds went to sleep. We were awakened at nearly 11 pm as two maids loudly came in to make the bed. After talking to other passengers, we learned this was common practice. Another issue was the chocolate. Call us decadent, but one of the things we love most about cruising is receiving chocolates on our pillow each night. We did not receive them the first or second nights, so I called down to reception to request them. The receptionist replied "um......I don't think we do that.....some people are allergic to chocolate". Upon talking to other passengers, I learned that they had received chocolates, so I asked again. Another receptionist told me that NCL doesn't give chocolates on pillows. On the third night, we had a miracle—chocolate on two of our three pillows!! For the next few nights we received either two or three chocolates, but did not receive ANY on the seventh night, so I called again. This time, our complaint was taken seriously and we received six chocolate covered strawberries in our room on the eighth night. This thoughtful gesture went a long way toward sweetening our thoughts about the service on the boat...until the next night, when we did not receive chocolates for everyone in our cabin. Admittedly, chocolates are a very small thing, but this was a good example of the schizophrenic customer service that characterized this cruise. In addition to the above issues: there is no ATM or bank on the ship, room service typically takes at least an hour and a half, many food and beverage items on every menu are not available (on the 9th day of the cruise, we were informed they had no egg beaters, Splenda, potatoes, or many menu selections), sections of the upper decks smell faintly of sewage, and our breakfast room service order was only correct one of 12 times! Our experiences are not unique. We met people who didn't have cold water in their rooms and some that didn't have hot water. We met people with room refrigerators that didn't work and some with faulty air conditioning. We met a woman who arrived to find dishes and dirty boxer shorts in her room and a couple who paid for a suite and arrived to find that they'd been downgraded to a much smaller room. Disembarkation began nearly 2 hours after it was supposed to--it was a disorganized nightmare! The cruise director gave out incorrect information in the briefing and inconvenienced many passengers. Despite these pervasive issues, we managed to have a good time (our family took bets on service issues and played 'survivor'!). Some of the waiters and service people went out of their way to circumvent obvious institutional inadequacies. The bottom line is that NCL booked passengers on this ship before it was ready. Efficient routines hadn't been established and staff hadn't been trained. The company may have offset costs by selling berths on the transit voyage through the Panama Canal. However, given the long term damage to brand equity caused by charging people full price for what is obviously a training cruise, that was probably not a wise decision. NCL management must focus on correcting these issues before we would come within a nautical mile of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
It was scary that on the inaugural cruise the utensils were always dirty. Not one day without finding a dirty utensil. The entertainment was good and shore excursions ok but aside from that, there was lots of chaos. Granted it was the ... Read More
It was scary that on the inaugural cruise the utensils were always dirty. Not one day without finding a dirty utensil. The entertainment was good and shore excursions ok but aside from that, there was lots of chaos. Granted it was the inaugural cruise, but they kept running out of food and everything on the ship seemed to malfunction. There was a horrible smell near the back of the ship and scarily the ship was filthy by mid trip and this was the FIRST true itinerary. Had major room problems such as stains on the sheets, not enough towels, cups, and for the most part lower than average service. Certainly do not get the bang for your buck. Definitely will not ride with NCL again and this gives a bad name to America. On the fourth of July there was a party that lasted 45 minutes and that was it for the whole day....on the PRIDE OF AMERICA ship. Not much else to say except that after riding on the Princess line before this was extremely disappointing at the least. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We ... Read More
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We had our share: sometimes hot water, sometimes cold, no air conditioning for a day, cold food, poor service in the dining room and with cabin maintenance. Noise and laughter in the hall by cleaning crew and one morning music started playing over the speaker at 6:30 a.m. Cabins are small. Ship is plain and not many activities. Cruise director kept asking everyone to be patient, but they never offered any solutions to problems. Most of the entertainment was great, except for the lady impersonator, as many people walked out on her. We chose to take the express check out, because we had an early flight, but we waited in the hall for almost three hours before we could start getting off. Many people we talked to were going to miss their flights simply because Norwegian was so unorganized. This ship was clearly not ready to be put into service. The ice cream machine broke down and they could not fix it until we got to LA. The restaurant computer system had problems. On the first morning at breakfast we were told they were out of hash browns. We bought time on the internet and that was a mistake, as they did not keep correct track of the time. They never did open the hot tub on deck 12 aft. As most people do, I waited for a much deserved enjoyable vacation, but Norwegian created a big disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
My wife, Audrey Newman, our grandson Gavin, and I, Howard Wallenstein, had been looking forward to this trip through the Panama Canal on NCL's newest ship Pride of America. Our first sight of her alongside the pier in Miami on June ... Read More
My wife, Audrey Newman, our grandson Gavin, and I, Howard Wallenstein, had been looking forward to this trip through the Panama Canal on NCL's newest ship Pride of America. Our first sight of her alongside the pier in Miami on June 25th was not a disappointment. Her gleaming white hull with the distinctive artwork was spectacular. Further, we were not disappointed in the beautiful public rooms and our staterooms. Unfortunately, the joy ended here. Our Experience: The ship layout appears to be of random design. It is not possible to access the Liberty Dining Room (the "upstairs" to the Skyline Dining Rooms' "downstairs") directly from anywhere else on the ship except from the aft elevators or through the Skyline Dining Room. On several occasions we had to go out onto the weather decks in the rain to get around either the Cadillac Diner or the Lazy J Steak House as opposed to going all the way forward and down to the fifth deck and then aft and through the Skyline Restaurant. Very annoying. The Pride of America was about 18 or 20 days out of the building yards in Bremerhaven when we boarded, and the air conditioning system was not under control. All the public rooms, the restaurants, main lobby, and the Hollywood theater were too cold to linger in without a warm sweater or jacket. Several rooms had no a/c at all. Tests were run almost daily on our staterooms "to determine the full load capacity" we were told. This required placing our a/c control in maximum cooling while locking the controls. We were told that "these tests were only for an hour". Four hours later they were still under "test," and repeated calls to reception produced no technician's appearance. Finally, five hours later a technician appeared, and I closely observed his procedure in unlocking our a/c control. During this "test" our room temperature dropped into the 50's, and the room became uninhabitable. Where could we go? All the public rooms were of the same temperature. Who brings cold weather clothing onto a cruise into the tropics? All further "tests" were limited by me to one hour, and then I unlocked the a/c control and put on the heat! The two rooms next to ours were occupied by our grandsons and dear friends. I stopped the "tests" in these rooms as well. The next most serious problem was in the dining rooms. These comments are for the Skyline and Liberty Dining rooms, Little Italy (until the last two days when the management changed - more later on this issue), Lazy J Steak House, and East Meets West. There are two major problems: food preparation and service. Food preparation first. I cannot comment on the layout or management of the galleys since we were unable to observe them first hand, however ongoing bottlenecks caused delays in food preparation all cruise long. The first night the appearance of the steak, which everyone ordered, was delayed over one hour. That's right, we sat on our hands for more than one hour after the appetizer, soup and salad were served. Has no one aboard operated a large dining room before? We had problems completing our meals in less than two and a half hours. We started initially planning to go to dinner at 7:30 planning on attending the 9:30 show in the Hollywood theater. We were forced to miss dessert and rush through the entrEe or miss the start of the entertainment. Eventually we started dinner at 6:45 with the request to our waiter to complete meal service by 9:00 p.m.. Late arrival at the show meant that our family of six could not sit together. Additionally the waiter and his assistant were reversed in their interaction from what we had observed, and enjoyed, on our prior 25 or so cruises. Aboard the Pride of America the waiters had the job of running to the galley to fetch the food, and the assistant cleared the table, set the bread service, and (sometimes, when he remembered) get the drink order. This forced the least experienced member of the table service crew to manage the meal experience. One evening at the start of the cruise Mr. Michael Landry, whose card has the title "Food and Beverage Director" stopped at our table and inquired "How are things going? Do you have any comments about the food experience?" We described the above observations to him. The only change from the pattern we have described was the next day when all the tables for two were clustered in the front of the room in response to complaints from several couples that the "fuss" caused by several small children was disturbing their meal, and the "romantic mood was spoiled". Of course this change had negative repercussions in that the waiters in the rest of the room now had to handle all the large tables which naturally slowed things down further. We had observed the senior ships' managers lounging in the specialty restaurants, smoking in groups in the common spaces and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee. In my 45 years experience as a Naval Officer and senior manager in the food industry I had learned to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. The lack of hands-on supervision was visible in all ship operations. The only exception to this ship wide problem was in the Cadillac Grill. The manager of this operation was David Verschoor. He closely managed the Grill. Service was prompt, the wait staff were attentive and appeared well trained and competent. The last two days of the cruise his talent must have been spotted and he was transferred to the Little Italy Restaurant. We had our last meal of the cruise in this dining room and the change from our first experience was like night and day. This proves my contention that management is severely lacking on the Pride of America. On the same subject: there is a serious fault somewhere in the food handling chain. My wife, myself, and our grandson had a severe case of "runny tummy". In the case of our grandson (13 years old) it required two trips to the ships' doctor. We found him caring and competent. He was very concerned that this might be a transmittable form, and quarantined Gavin to his room for 24 hours. He prescribed a bland diet which would be served to him in his room by Room Service. Room service could/would not comply. All attempts to order white rice and plain chicken failed. "It is not on the menu, we will not make something special". We coped by delivering food from the Aloha Buffet. An informal interviewing of all the people we came across during the last three days revealed that almost one person of each couple questioned reported a case of "runny tummy". By informal count we spoke to over 250 couples. This is a serious problem. One more fact on the subject of food preparation. The garbage handling system for the Aloha Grill was built too close to the Little Italy Dining Room forcing the Little Italy Dining Room which is directly next to the Aloha Grill to fetch its' food from the main dining rooms six decks away. Yet, under Mr. Verschoor's management the service and dining experience was excellent, and what we have learned to expect from a first class cruise ship. Lastly, and the most embarrassing to as an ex-Naval Officer was the total lack of seamanship on the Pride of America. Our last scheduled port visit was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The absence of pier facilities required that shore visits must be made via tenders. We have visited this port on other ships and had experienced small boat operations before. My Naval experience was in USS Cambria (APA-36) an assault ship whose mission was landing Marines over the beach. We earned our pay by unloading, filling and dispatching landing craft. Our Pride of America schedule had us anchoring at 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. and starting tender operations by 10:00 a.m. With a scheduled ship departure at 3:00 p.m. (last boat departs shore at 2:30 p.m.) we could anticipate a brief, but tolerable four and a half hour visit. Short, but tolerable for our grandson to "taste" Mexico, and renew memories for us. Having drawn Tender #8, we anticipated a short wait, and decided to watch tender operations from the sixth deck. What I witnessed was complete chaos, and an increasingly dangerous operation. There were 3 to 4 (varying from time to time) seamen handling lines, and no visible supervision. The tenders were supplied by the port and were handled by experienced boat handlers. As I said the ship was anchored. In these conditions, there is no net current at slack tide, up to a few knots of current when the tide is running. Under all conditions the ships' head is into the source of current, as she is anchored. That is why ship designers install a bitt in the ships' hull forward of the tender platform. What is supposed to happen is that ships' sailors bend (attach) a line called a "painter" to this bitt, and it should be of sufficient length to run to the platform. As a small boat approaches, the deckhand seizes the painter, and bends it around the boats' forward cleat. This act stabilizes the boat alongside of the ship allowing the attachment of another line, and the discharge and loading of personnel. No painter was in use. Further, and adding to the dangerous situation, seamen on the platform ALWAYS bent the first line to the boat onto the aft cleat, assuring instability and the swinging of the boat at right angles to the platform causing the boat to cast off and try again. One more thing added to the chaos: when a seaman caught a line from the boat he did not know that his weight and strength was insufficient to keep the boat alongside, and he should immediately take a turn around the cleat in front of him to snub the line to keep it from running and allow its' further tightening. After watching this debacle for two hours, and listening to my fellow passengers' grumbling, I went to the Reception desk and asked to speak to the most senior officer available. The Assistant Front Desk Manager appeared. I described what I had observed and requested that this situation be made known to the responsible operating officer, and a decision made to extend the shore visit by several hours. He refused stating that the ships' schedule was unalterable. So, off I went with my grumbling shipmates. We hit shore at 12:30, had a wonderful (ha!) two hours visit, and was aboard at 2:45. Adding insult to injury during embarkation ship personnel had dispatched one of the their lifeboats to fetch supplies from the port. Loading tenders was interrupted for 35 precious minutes while the seamen attempted to bring the lifeboat alongside to receive several crew members. Then when it returned about 3:30 to unload these precious emergency supplies, four loaded tenders had to cast off and heave-to while these supplies were off loaded as a priority cargo more important that four boatloads of increasingly seasick passengers. And what was the emergency supplies? It was toilet paper and bananas! As it worked out, tender operations continued until 4:30 p.m. This delay could not be made up over the next 36 hours of cruising, and we arrived late in Los Angeles. Delays caused by the documentation of about 75 American citizen crew added to the final time we were able to debark. We used the NCL "Express Disembarkation", which means we hauled our own luggage and stood waiting in the sixth deck passageway with about 500 other guests who had elected the "Express Debarkation". Needless to say we missed our scheduled flight, and the next one we changed to, finally arriving at LAX at 12:15. Flight connections failed all day, and we arrived home exhausted the next day. All personal spirits and wine were confiscated from us upon boarding. They were returned when we arrived in LA, and this operation took over an hour. We had lots and lots of time waiting to get off. As a parting note, we found the lack of "work ethic" among the US crew as compared to foreign staffed ships. Our stateroom steward had to be reminded daily to fully replace the in-room coffee service, and wash out the pot and throw away the spent coffee filter. Our room was never dusted, and the balcony glass was not wiped to remove the salt deposits. I mention these petty items because they illustrate the condition, and many of our fellow passengers cited the same issues. Every port (even the Panama Canal) saw several crew members with their personal luggage leave the ship. Most were disenchanted by the requirements to work, and the rest were terminated for various reasons. We had heard through the "scuttlebutt" (ships' rumor mill) that 100 new crew members would be boarding in LA to take their places. Guess our answer to NCL's question: "Would you sail on an NCL ship again, and will you recommend it to a friend?" Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
I cannot believe a cruise line like NCL would actually book cruises on a ship that was not in proper working order or staffed with a well-trained crew. I think the only reason they did so was due to the advanced publicity they received ... Read More
I cannot believe a cruise line like NCL would actually book cruises on a ship that was not in proper working order or staffed with a well-trained crew. I think the only reason they did so was due to the advanced publicity they received from the Regis and Kelly Show. There were many minor problems too numerous to list in great detail but here are several that seem to stand out. The restaurants ran out of menu items on first day of the cruise and several other items in the days that followed. The food service in dining rooms was extremely slow and seemed rather disorganized. They seemed to be trying several different procedures to improve the service and even rearranged tables but things never seemed to be working as they should. Several times my food was not prepared as ordered and one time it was actually cold - not lukewarm or room temperature - cold. The food in the buffet was good. The bakery was especially tasty. Unfortunately you always had to go looking for silverware if you were lucky enough to find a table that was cleaned off. Personnel working in the buffet seemed very understaffed and overwhelmed. Supervisors walked around seemingly taking down notes but no improvements could be noticed. One of the ice cream machines broke the first day of the cruise and remained that way for the remainder of the cruise. Frequently the ice machine and ice tea and juice dispensers were not working. Mechanically there were also problems. There were many contractors on board still working on problems and installations. The air conditioning went out for almost a day and a half. Sometimes there was no cold water, other times there was no hot water. The spa in the back deck of the ship never was operational. There was also a terrible smell in the back by the main restaurants which we were told came from a downdraft from the smoke stacks. There was no navigational information available on the room television and we were told it was not operational yet. Housekeeping was the worst I have ever experienced on a cruise. Housekeepers in the walkways by the cabin were very noisy and made it difficult to get to sleep and often woke us up early in the morning. The rooms were very dusty and the balcony window was filthy and was never touched during the entire two weeks. Coffee pots were not cleaned regularly and supplies were not replaced until we requested them. The entertainment was good with the exception of the impersonator who almost walked off in the middle of her performance due to technical problems. The sketch artist in the main area was a great touch. The ship itself seemed to be rather plain compared to others we have been on. It is obviously designed to be used where much of the time on the cruise is to be spent in port which is what will be the case in Hawaii. The rooms were very small. We had a balcony room and the two of us could not get around without bumping into each other. The fitness center was the best we have seen on a ship. Many treadmills and cycles with individual televisions and ample room for other fitness equipment. In general crew members were pleasant and seemed to be trying to do the best they could. One got the feeling that they were on a "shake down" cruise. Obviously management knew there were problems since almost every announcement ended with "We appreciate your patience" or "We ask for your patience". My question is "Why didn't NCL do something to accommodate passengers for the many inconveniences they endured?" If this were a fine hotel they would have either refunded the purchase price or given something towards any future visits. NCL did neither. Not only would I not recommend NCL but I feel they should be ashamed for their lack of consideration of passengers. The only thing worse than poor customer service is none at all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2005
My husband and I sailed the FIRST true cruise through the Panama Canal on June 25th. We weren't the "Regis and Kelly" show guests nor did we receive a "special invitation" for a 2-night preview. We were full-fare ... Read More
My husband and I sailed the FIRST true cruise through the Panama Canal on June 25th. We weren't the "Regis and Kelly" show guests nor did we receive a "special invitation" for a 2-night preview. We were full-fare paying passengers. Embarkation.. not a problem. I wouldn't give it a 6, but personnel was friendly and made it less stressful. This was our sixth cruise and we've had it worse. The ship itself as far as appearance goes is very impressive, once inside. What was suppose to be a memorable trip for us, especially since we've been dreaming of cruising the Panama Canal for sometime, turned into 12 days of regrets. Once in the stateroom, we discovered traces of previous guests. They were given to a crew member that happened to be walking by because it was total chaos on that ship at that time. Our neighbors discovered dirty underwear in a drawer along with a disgusting bowel movement in their toilet. After numerous calls for housekeeping, they used the restroom in the public areas. The dirty underwear were never picked up so they were tossed by the elevator hoping some crew member walking by would do their job. We heard so many similar complaints from other passengers. Aside from the housekeeping, the a/c was uncontrollable or they didn't know what the heck they were doing. Taking it to the other end, we were informed that an elderly couple down the hall from us had no power in their room for a day. That makes everything else seem trivial. Our safe malfunctioned on the 2nd day. After numerous crew members were called in to check it out, ship security finally handled the situation. It took him almost four hours to rectify because orders on what to do had to come from Miami. The safe had to eventually be drilled out and replaced. There were numerous complaints on safes, as well. Other passengers that had the same problem were told they could not replace their safe and they would be able to use one obtained from their office. A little inconvenient, isn't it when one has to go down to reception to get something from the safe! The Freestyle iTV was not operational. There was no navigational system available on TV to inform us of our location. Overall, the cabins are very small with only a few drawers and a very tiny closet. The bathroom is also tiny. I'm a small person and I found it difficult to move around in it. The restaurants...Our first day, we went to the Cadillac Diner, waited about 10 minutes for a seat and an hour and a half for our meal. That was very disappointing. We didn't go back there until the last full day of our cruise, hoping that service had improved. What a joke. We were seated right away but waited AGAIN an hour and a half for our meal. Well, at least my meal. I ordered a hamburger (well done) and when it was brought to me, was still pink and soggy in the middle. What could they have done in an hour and half !?!?!?! My husband had been served 20 minutes prior to my meal being served and this just ruined the entire meal for both of us. Service...what does it say when the maitre D' is clearing tables while his crew members are standing around talking ? Sounds like bad management to me, and not at this level. It goes up to the top. Someone up there that should be overseeing this entire operation isn't doing HIS job. We went to the Taste of Italy on our last night and that was a disappointment, not to mention a pain in the belly. I consumed bad food that had me wanting to be sucked up by that vacuum line in the toilets. I was too sick to move and if I moved I felt even worse. We usually ate at the Aloha Cafe because we didn't feel that we should have to pay for the specialty restaurants but this was at times unbearable too. There were gas fumes that overcame the rear of the back of the ship. We heard passengers complaining that the fumes went all the way down to their cabins on deck 5. The Aloha Cafe is on deck 11. That is totally unacceptable. The other complaint is that the some of the food in the Aloha Cafe was not labeled. My husband has an allergy to shellfish and almost served himself fettucine but when he asked what the sauce contained, he was told that it was a white sauce with some sort of shellfish. That would have been tragic had he not asked. They had one working ice cream machine, which was a joke. The coffee machines were another joke. They were either down or needed coffee. Once I was told to go to the other side of the ship if I wanted coffee. That was the only working coffee machine at the time. After trying other restaurants, we finally decided just to bear it and eat at the Aloha Cafe. The wait was too long in the main dining rooms and at times the food was just mediocre. Not what one would expect from a main dining room. The shore excursions were almost sold out when we went down to book on our first day. We ended up with the leftovers that no one else wanted. I guess we should have booked on-line but without knowing more about the excursions, one is hesitant. Our stop in Roatan could have been skipped and wouldn't have mattered. Costa Rica on both sides was ok. The Panama Canal is what were mainly interested in and that was something that I'll never forget. Our stop in Cabo San Lucas was VERY short. By the time the tenders got the last of passengers on land, they had 2 hours to run around and be back to make NCL deadline. This was one stop that most of the passengers were very upset about. I found the tenders to be extremely dangerous in the loading and unloading. I don't believe NCL was prepared. The spa....the massage that I booked was great, however, when entering the ladies changing room I found a male crew member that was in there (possibly cleaning?). There was a female crew member fixing her hair and neither one of them batted on eye when I walked in. Is this procedure? Well, maybe I expected too much from NCL. Needless to say, I didn't want to interrupt their routine so I just walked out. My husband, on the other hand, had to go to our stateroom to shower after getting his massage. He asked for soap and towels because the men's changing room had none. Needless to say, he waited quite a while and ended up walking out in a an oil-covered body. What a sight !! The entertainment...The guests entertainers were great, especially pianist, Juan Pablo. NCL entertainers were just mediocre. We attended 2 of the 3 shows they performed and found them to be lacking something. I understand this is a very young crew and they're just getting started, so perhaps quite a few years down the line there will be an improvement. However, they do get an "A" for effort. The Captain and other heads of departments appeared before the passengers in what was called "Captains Profile". This happened just a few days before the end of the cruise. The was a short question and answer session where most of these complaints were voiced. The a/c dilemma, we were told, was "being worked on" and the gas fume dilemma was also "being worked on". Other complaints were answered by merely saying that this was a new crew and everyone was doing their best. There were still many kinks to work out and eventually it would happen. We have traveled other cruise lines before and I can honestly say that I would take Carnival any day over NCL. It was pointed out by the hotel director, Scott Hamby, that having an ALL AMERICAN crew had it's advantages and one of them is not having a language barrier. Well, that may be so but we found that even with a language barrier on other lines, the service received was phenomenal. Most of the crew on this ship has to be in the 20-25 yr old category. This is a very young crew and most of them don't know what real work is about. We heard their disenchantment with NCL all through the cruise on many of the decks. Many of these kids couldn't wait to get off the ship. Many of them stated they were in it just long enough to pay off their college bills. These aren't crew members that want to be committed to doing this for the long haul and somewhere along the line work ethics becomes a problem. That was very evident on this ship. Many of these kids did not want to work. They wanted to go back to their hometown or back to their Mom and Dad. I also have to recognize the few that really worked their hineys off. They earned their fair share and their co-worker's share as well. We weren't all as fortunate as the first reviewer. He received an invitation for a 2-night preview, had the pleasure of enjoying two deck parties. One with a mechanical bull and the other with a mechanical surfboard. He was obviously treated better. NCL was more attentive with him than they were with us. We were never treated with such a show. Upon disembarking, he also received a commemorative inaugural gift. Well, that was very generous of NCL. One would think that the the passengers that had been the true "inaugural" passengers, that paid the price with both money and aggravation, that had made the first "true" cruise to their destination would be the ones to receive such a gift. Once again, NCL has shown their true colors. For those of you that are considering traveling NCL on this ship, read the reviews and reconsider. Remember, "they're still working on it" !!!!! Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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